[Advaita-l] Question about vegetarianism

Santosh Rao itswhateva at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 18:01:08 CDT 2015

Namaskar jaldhar,

Thank you for the informative response, much appreciated!
On Apr 26, 2015 5:01 PM, "Jaldhar H. Vyas via Advaita-l" <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> On Sun, 26 Apr 2015, Santosh Rao via Advaita-l wrote:
>  Namaskar,
>> Is the strict vegetarianism practiced by south Indian Brahmins a product
>> of
>> jain dharma which was had a strong past presence in that region?
> There could be a case for this.  Gujarat which also has an influential
> Jain tradition upto the present day is also staunchly vegetarian.  But in
> our area it is practiced at all levels of society not just Brahmanas.  So
> if Jainism is the cause of interest in vegetarianism why is it not more
> widespread in the South?
> Rather than specifically point to one source it makes sense to see it as
> part of the central divide in Indian culture which historian refer to by
> the shorthand "Brahmanas and Shramanas."  This comes from a phrase in the
> shilalekhas of Ashoka who although a Buddhist called himself devanamapriya
> in his edicts.  It does not imply that brahmanas and shramanas are two
> completely separate groups but refers to different concepts of the ideal
> religious personality: householder versus sannyasi, swarga-oriented versus
> moksha-oriented, practicing karma versus practicing jnana.  At one extreme
> you have the Purva mimamsakas who are completely dedicated to the (often
> himsaka) yajnas of the Vedas and deny moksha and at the other extreme Jains
> and Buddhists who deny the authority of the Vedas and consider karma an
> obstacle to the ultimate goal.  Between the extremes you have various
> syntheses.  Advaita Vedanta for instance can be seen as shramanic in terms
> of extolling the sannyasi and jnana and moksha.  But it does not reject
> karma and the grhastha outright. (karmayoga as described in the Gita for
> example.)  The Brahmasutras even defend the idea of himsaka yajnas.
> Vegetarianism was a shramanic concept but one that was easily adopted into
> an otherwise brahmanic framework.  See the shlokas from Manusmrti that
> Animesh quoted for example.  A vanaprastha is not that different from a
> grhastha.  He is married, performs all the obligatory rituals and does not
> change his social identity the way a sannyasi would.  But as part of
> "keeping his organs in subjection." he abstains from flesh, honey etc. and
> lives in the forest on fruits and vegetables found there.  This is an
> organic development of Vedic culture and I see no reason to need to invoke
> "Jain influence" here.
>> What is the proper way to view and explain vegetarianism and how it
>> pertains to dharma in spite of meat eating / animal sacrifice in sastras?
> The way I explain it is that while eating meat is not evil, not eating
> meat is more good.  Unlike many animals we as humans have a choice in our
> diets.  We should try and choose not to cause unnecessary suffering when we
> can especially when that suffering is only to feed carnal appetites.
> From the dharmic point of view it should be noted tha shishtachara is an
> equal pillar of dharma to shruti and smrti.  For castes whose tradition is
> vegetarian it is their dharma even if there are a 1000 books to the
> contrary.
>> Also, is it permissible to consume onions and garlic? What is the
>> authoritative position on this?
> They are not allowed.  However it seems that most people (Jains and some
> types of Vaishnavas are some exceptions) are more lax about this than other
> forbidden foods.  Personally I avoid them altogether during Shravana masa
> and other vratas and I try not to eat them the rest of the time but its
> pretty hard with standard Gujarati cuisine.
>  -- Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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